Justin Williams

October 5, 2022

Jobs-to-be-Done (JTBD) Interview Guide

Before you dive in:

  • JTBD interviews are designed to discover the underlying motivations or the real reasons behind a buying decision
  • These are typically wildly different from what customers will say in surveys or traditional interviews
  • The theory of JTBD is that customers don't buy products. Instead, they take life as it comes, and when it a situation arises, they look to hire a product to do a job or make a particular kind of progress in their life
  • The best customers for JTBD interviews are those that just purchased or signed up for your product
  • If we, as product people, can understand said desires for progress, we can focus our product, design, and marketing work on creating more meaningful value for the customer

Intro Speil

Hi, and thanks for participating in this interview. I'm going to ask you some questions about your decision to purchase <product/service>
  • There are no right or wrong answers; I'm just trying to hear your story in your own words.
  • I ask that you be totally candid. You won’t hurt my feelings, and oftentimes, the negative helps more than the positive. 
  • At certain times, I'll ask detailed questions about a situation.
  • You can think of it like we’re filming a documentary, and we’re trying to set the scene and get all the details right for a closeup.
  • Then we will get you out of here with <participant compensation of choice>
  • Any questions before we get started?


  • Tell me a little about yourself
  • What were you using before <product/service>? 
  • Why did you start looking for something new?
  • What worked well?
  • What was the biggest issue with the old solution?

  • Tell me about your role at the company
  • How has life been different since you started using <product/service>?
  • Has anything changed in the world such that what you just described is more important than it would have been a couple of years ago?
  • What does success look like for you?
  • How do you measure it?
  • What are your biggest obstacles to achieving success right now?

Finding the First Thought

  • When did you first think about <product/service>?
  • What triggered you to think about this?
  • What else do you remember from that day? Were you with someone? What did they say?
  • What were you doing or trying to do, when this happened?

Desired Progress

  • What about the <product/service> stood out to you the most?
  • What kind of progress or change were you hoping for when you purchased <product/service>?
  • Why is this important?
  • What do you hope it will help you achieve?

Consideration Set

  • Tell me about how you looked for a product to solve your problem. Walk me through each step of your search. 
  • Before purchasing <product/service>, what other options did you consider?
    • Did you try or buy anything before you found us?
  • Did you compare the purchase you were about to make with <your co> to any other products?
    • If so, which?
  • Why did you choose our <product/service> vs. the alternatives?
  • When you discovered <product/service>, what first made you interested in trying it?

Emotional Factors

  • Did you ask anyone else what they thought about the purchase you were about to make?
  • What was the conversation like when you discussed the purchase with your <spouse/friend/co-worker(s)>?
  • Did you have any anxiety about the purchase? What was it? Why did it make you nervous?
  • Was there any information you wish you would have known that would have made the decision easier?
  • What made the purchase process challenging, inconvenient, or frustrating?
  • How did you overcome your initial concerns?
  • What could have been a deal-breaker?
  • What led to you overcoming these concerns?


  • How does using <product/service> compare to your initial expectations?
  • What do you like most about it?
  • What can you do now that you couldn't before? What's the big problem it solves?
  • If <product/service> disappeared tomorrow, what would you miss most?
  • How has <proudct/service> made your life better?
  • Have there been any moments of delight while using <product/service>? 
  • If you could wave a magic wand and improve three things about the product, what would they be? Assume anything is possible ;)
    • Why would you want that improvement?
    • What would that enable you to do that you can't do now?

Swipeable language

i.e., this is the language you can use in marketing materials and landing pages
  • How would you describe the experience of <product/service> to a friend?
  • Who would you say the <product/service> is for?
  • Why is <product/service> perfect for people like that?
  • If you had to convince a friend to try <product/service> and you only had 2 minutes to explain why they should buy it, what would you say?

Wrap Up

  • Many customers worry that they have not been helpful enough - please reassure them.
  • Thank you, while answers to these questions may seem straightforward at times, I can assure you I've learned a tremendous amount and you've given me a lot of ideas
  • Is there anything else you think I should know?